Sunday, January 5, 2014


One day last week I went to visit my Dad at the nursing home.  A musician was coming in to entertain the residents with his guitar and singing, so I got my Dad up and took him to the Activity Room. 

Most of the residents that were in attendance that day are between the ages of 75-95, so the musician was playing music from their eras.  As he played, I watched the expressions on the faces of these men and women.  Smiles lit up their faces when a song was played that they remembered and some of them would start singing along. 
These who had lost so much through old age, could still remember most of the words to these songs!  And you could tell they were remembering - remembering back to a better time when they were young and still had a lifetime ahead of them.

My Dad is 88; will be 89 in April and doesn't get around very well anymore.  He's pretty much in a wheelchair when he isn't in bed.  He doesn't talk much anymore either, but you can still see him there when you look in his eyes.  He and my Mom were married for 56 years when my Mom died; she's been gone almost 12 yrs now and he still cries whenever he talks about her.

That day the musician played a couple of songs that were my Mom's favorites and as I saw my Dad's response, it brought tears to my eyes.  He closed his eyes and his lips were moving along to the words and I could almost feel what he was remembering. 
This man whose life has been reduced to the four walls of the nursing home, whose possessions fit into 2 dresser drawers and one narrow wardrobe.  The most prized possession he has are his memories.

Memories -
by the time we get to be my Dad's age, it's pretty much all we have left - memories. 
I saw it on the faces of the other residents, too. 
How the music transported them back to another time and place. 

The cycle of life is very evident to me whenever I visit the nursing home.  
We come into this world so helpless and dependent and then, if we live as long as some of these people have, most of us will leave this world the same way- helpless and dependent.
You know, I think we are always like that - helpless and dependent - not just as newborns or elderly people, but always.
Helpless -
"For in Him we live, and move, and have our being;"
Acts 17:28
Dependent -
Jesus said, "....for without me you can do nothing."
John 15:5
That is our state before God.
We just don't know it.
Or we refuse to see or acknowledge it.
We like to think we are strong and capable; independent and self-sufficient; self-sustaining and brave; intelligent and determined.
We often consider it a sign of weakness to admit we have need.
That's played out oftentimes through our inability to admit that we need help with something.  We struggle and struggle with something, because we are too proud to ask for help.
I spend endless frustrating moments with my computer, because I don't want to "bother someone to come over to help me," when it's really because I don't want to admit that I'm not smart enough to figure it out for myself!

I sit here today with a sore hip and shoulder because I didn't want to ask for help to shovel my walkway!  "I can do it myself!"  Sound familiar?
It's very humbling to admit we don't know something, to admit that we can't figure something out, or that we can't get by without help.  It's humbling to ask - because then we are admitting what we perceive to be weakness.  And when we ask, we are also risking - - taking the chance that we are not going to get what we need.  We put ourselves at the mercy of another and that can be a very uncomfortable place to be.  This forces us to admit we are not an island; we can't stand alone!
I see the faces of these residents and I see people who've been humbled by life.  They've lived long enough to come to the realization that they don't stand alone!
I love the residents I have met at the nursing home.  Many of them are still very strong in mind, but terribly weak in body. 
One lady, Delores, has a wonderful sense of humor and I am just delighted to chat with her.  She always brings a smile to my face.  She used to be a hairdresser and she never fails to comment on my hair.

Then there is Lena.  She used to be an acrobatic dancer at the Barre Opera House.  Lena is 95 and as sharp as a tack!  Unfortunately, she also swears like a trooper!  But underneath her gruff exterior is a woman who has known her share of grief.  Her only child - a daughter - died of breast cancer several years ago.

George - who I call Georgey Porgy - is also 95 and used to be a farmer.  He has a couple of stumps where fingers used to be - cut off by farm equipment.  George tells me stories of his farming days.  He was a very hard worker.  He, too, has a wonderful sense of humor and I just love talking to him.

Dorothy wins at Bingo all the time, is very impatient with others who don't play as well as she does and loves to read.  She also has terrible coughing spells that often leave her breathless.

Shirley is the mother of a woman I graduated from high school with.  She has a crush on my Dad and they are always winking at each other and blowing each other kisses across the table when they play Bingo!!  She is such a sweetheart and I love her!

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Precious people these are, who have been humbled by the toll life has taken on their bodies.

I love the humility I see on their faces. 
I love the cheerful coutenances even in the midst of all their ailments. 
I love the history I see on their faces.
Humility...a word I've been reflecting on a lot lately.
True humility is reflected in a grateful, appreciative heart.
A heart that knows it deserves nothing good.
A heart that knows all is grace! me, Lord!


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